30-second spots are not the future of marketing

Tuesday was a big day for the grocery and snack business formerly known as Kraft Foods as the iconic company split into two entities that now trade separately: Kraft Foods Group and Mondelez International.

Tuesday was a big day for the grocery and snack business formerly known as Kraft Foods as the iconic company split into two entities that now trade separately: Kraft Foods Group and Mondelez International.

The global snack and candy brands, including Oreo, Cadbury, and Nabisco, now reside in Mondelez International. Kraft Foods Group now houses the North American grocery business, including Velveeta, Miracle Whip, and Oscar Mayer.

So it was timely to be able to hear the thoughts of Bonin Bough, formerly Kraft Foods and now Mondelez International's VP of global media and consumer engagement, as part of a panel I chaired during Advertising Week on the subject of creativity, creative destruction, and its impact on communications.

Enthusiastic and impressive, and a member of PRWeek's Power List, Bough admitted he wasn't particularly looking for a move from PepsiCo, where he spent three years as senior global director of digital and social media until this February.

But he was seduced away by Kraft's SVP of marketing strategy and communications Dana Anderson and her mission to create joy through marketing and extend that to Mondelez, which aims to behave like the world's largest startup and foster a mindset totally permeated by creativity and creative destruction.

Anderson believes all media is now digital and she wanted a digital guy – Bough – to lead hers. She has shaken up Kraft/Mondelez's agency strategy, moving it away from traditional Kraft priorities of price and economies of scale to encourage more creativity and risk-taking via shops such as Mother, Taxi, and Droga5.

The underlying premise behind the switch is that big brands now hit the point of diminishing returns on their traditional advertising investment much earlier. Traditional methods are no longer effective and there is going to be more and more change.

Bough is still adamant, however, that breakthrough creative translates to real business results. He notes that many campaigns that win awards also increase sales and also create an elasticity of price that persuades people to pay more for those products.

He also pointed out that the old way of buying media does not make for a particularly creative environment - media is treated as a commodity, not an asset.

Traditionally, agencies are asked to buy media in May before there is even a creative idea on the table. Hence, this imperative to invest so early almost always results in a 30-second spot.

But Bough views media as marketing partners, not just repositories of ad inventory. He is not just buying 30-second spots - he's doing co-viewing apps, events, social media, and so on. The investment is still locked in, but it doesn't have to be around inventory.

The flipside of this coin is that he is putting different types of agency in the lead to shift that model. And he is investing in initiatives such as Mondelez's Mobile Futures drive, also launched this week, which aims to partner brands with mobile startups to create innovative marketing concepts.

Bough is also just as happy to place the lead agency role with a PR firm, and that's the space communications agencies must now aspire to play in.

He joked that Mondelez still doesn't quite realize what it's done in appointing a digital person to head media, but, as he also said, he is not an anomaly. He is a beachhead of what is about to happen in marketing and advertising.

It is riskier not to change than it is to change, and brands doing the same thing time and time again have been proven to fail. That's where the unique skills and assets of PR's sweet spot in communications and social media can prosper as the reliance on the 30-second advertising spot continues to wane.

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